On my phone, I’ve got quite a few files that were not downloaded from any of my other devices. These include pictures I’ve taken with the phone itself, pdfs I’ve downloaded through the phone’s browser, etc.
Of course, I’d like to have backups of all these files. And of course Apple makes this as difficult as possible by pushing me to use its abysmal iTunes software for creating the backup.
Now here is what iTunes does: I have photo files with names like IMG_0840.jpg — which, if not terribly descriptive, is at least immediately recognizable as a photo. I have pdfs with names like Dirac.QuantumMechanics.pdf, which is a nice, easily recognizable name. I download everything to my computer via iTunes, and here is a partial directory listing of what I get:
Yes, Dirac.QuantumMechanics.pdf has had its name changed to ffcc4678d5e0ab310f88d38926a4922e2b70ed0b. Or perhaps to ffff64402524baf7d1e3bc49780379e69fe69ed0. There is no way to tell which file is which (they are not even arranged in directories that mirror the directory structure on the iPhone) and not even any way to tell which are jpgs, which are mp3s, which are pdfs, etc..
I can, of course, try randomly renaming these files things like “tryit.jpg”, “tryit.mp3″, “tryit.pdf”, etc., and see which ones open. I can do this with each of several hundred files separately. Or alternatively, I can have a life.
So in order to preserve usable backups of my files, I have to download them all over again, bypassing iTunes and hacking around a while to get my computer to believe that the iPhone is a hard drive (which Apple has gone out of its way to make as difficult as possible) and then copy the files over into another directory, which at least preserves their names, while creating exact duplicates of all the files you just saw listed above (and the hundreds of others like them) and thereby taking up twice as much space on my computer hard drive as should be necessary.
(And no, I can’t at this point erase the backups with the stupid names, because if I ever need to restore the state of my phone, it’s rigged so the phone won’t work properly unless you restore from the official Apple backup,)
You should get an iPhone only if either a) you never expect to move files back and forth between your phone and your computer, and in particular don’t care if all the files on your phone are in jeopardy of being lost because there is no decent way to back them up, or b) you are a very particular sort of masochist.
I’m sure this all has something to do with Apple’s paranoia that somebody might steal an mp3 file from the iTunes store, or something like that. I’m sure that if I fully understood the issues, I’d have more sympathy for them than I do. But the bottom line is that from the user’s viewpoint, the iPhone sucks, and if Apple is not evil, then it might as well be.